REPROHEALTHLAW Updates — Sept 2017

September 29, 2017

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DEVELOPMENTS
[Chile] Abortion legalized in three cases: when the woman’s life is at risk, when the fetus will not survive the pregnancy, and in case of rape).  New law ruled constitutional by the Constitutional Court of Chile on August 28, 2017:  Decision in Spanish -295 pagesAccompanying documentsOther Submissions  Newspaper report in EnglishDecision summarized in English.

RESOURCES

[abortion] The Responsibility of Gynecologists and Obstetricians in providing safe abortion services within the limits of the law, by Anibal Faúndes,  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 139.1 (Oct 2017): 1-3.  Wiley Online.

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), now in paperback, 20% discount code PH70.  English edition from U Penn PressTable of Contents with chapter summaries.  Table of Cases
—El aborto en el derecho transnacional
, 2016
: Fondo de Cultura Económica
Libreria CIDE.    Índice con resúmenes de capítulos

[Africa]  Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts, published by Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) in 2017, 228 pages.   New Online edition with links to decisions.    Flyer with Table of Contents.    Download whole book

[Canada] After Morgentaler: The Politics of Abortion in Canada, by Rachael Johnstone, UBC press, 2017, 196 pages.  Based on this doctoral thesis in Political Science.   Purchase options.

“Conscientious Objection to Abortion and Accommodating Women’s Reproductive Health Rights: Reflections on a Decision of the Constitutional Court of Colombia from an African Regional Human Rights Perspective,” by Charles G Ngwena,  Journal of African Law 58.2 (October 2014) 183 – 209.  Abstract and article now online.      

[conscience] “The Conscience Wars in Historical and Philosophical Perspective: The Clash between Religious Absolutes and Democratic Pluralism,”  by Michel Rosenfeld, in  (Susanna Mancini & Michel Rosenfeld, eds.) The Conscience Wars: Rethinking the Balance between Religion, Identity, and Equality (Cambridge University Press 2018)   58 Pages online.

[stigma: abortion, sex work] “Perfectly Legal, but Still Bad: Lessons for Sex Work from the Decriminalization of Abortion,” by Jula Hughes, University of New Brunswick Law Journal 68 (2017): 232-252   Abstract and article at SSRN

NEWS
India: Supreme Court Allows Rape Survivor to Terminate Her 31-Week-Old Pregnancy, despite 20-week limit under Medical Termination of Pregnancy law, based on medical concerns re health of the mother, including trauma from rape.
Newspaper report.    Judgment forthcoming.

Northern Ireland:  Medical professionals will no longer face prosecution if they refer women to clinics in England and Wales for abortions  Newspaper report.

International news and resources for advocacy:  International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion.

US-focused news, resources, and legal developments are available on Repro Rights Prof Blog.  View or subscribe.

JOBS
Links to employers in the field of Reproductive and Sexual Health Law are online here

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Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


South Africa: Expulsion of pregnant students violated constitutional rights

September 29, 2017

Many thanks to Godfrey Kangaude, LL.M. (UFS), LL.M. (UCLA), an LL.D. candidate at the University of Pretoria and Executive Director of Nyale Institute for Sexual and Reproductive Health Governance in Malawi, for summarizing this decision with Y. Kakhobwe in Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts, published by Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) in 2017.  228-pages online     Flyer with Table of Contents.     New online edition with links to decisions and analyses.

Head of Department, Department of Education, Free State Province v. Welkom High School & anotherHead of Department, Department of Education, Free State Province v. Harmony High School & another (CCT 103/12) [2013] ZACC 25, 2013 (9) BCLR 989(CC); 2014 (2) SA 228 (CC) (10 July 2013)   Constitutional Court of South Africa  Decision online.    Case summary by G. Kangaude and Y. Kakhobwe.

Two South African high schools had adopted policies that provided for automatic
exclusion of any student from school if it is found that she is pregnant. When in two separate instances the schools applied the policies to pregnant students, the Head of the provincial department of education intervened in the decisions of the school’s governing bodies and ordered them to ignore the pregnancy policy and reinstate the students. The respondents took the matter to the High Court which ruled that this official had no authority to tell the principals not to implement their adopted policy.  The
Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s decision.  The Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled that if school policies were unconstitutional, as these were, the Head of the provincial education department should have intervened, using the proper mechanisms provided by the Schools Act.
The Constitutional Court opined that these pregnancy policies prima facie violated constitutional principles, and violations should be addressed by the scheme of powers under the School Act.  The Court held that, first, the policies unjustifiably discriminated on the basis of pregnancy and sex.  Second, the policies limited the right to education by requiring that the student repeat an entire year.  Third, the policies prima facie violated students’ rights to human dignity, privacy, and bodily and psychological integrity by requiring them to report their own pregnancy or that of others.  Finally, the policies violated the best interests of the child because they failed to take into account the health and other needs of the pregnant student.
The Court did not make a declaration on the constitutional validity of the pregnancy policies since this issue was not placed properly before it, and also because the Court respected the scheme of powers in the School Act. However, the Court ordered the school governing boards to review their pregnancy policies.
The Court’s opinion follows several older African judgments such as Student Representative Council of Molepolole College of Education v. Attorney General [1995] (3) LRC 447), where the Botswana Court of Appeal held that a regulation that required a student to report pregnancy to the authorities, and would be obliged to leave the College or be expelled if this was a second occurrence, was unconstitutional as it was discriminatory on the basis of sex. Similarly, in Mfolo and Others v. Minister of Education,  [1992] (3) LRC 181,Bophuthatswana (South Africa, Supreme Court, Bophuthatswana and General Division), and in Lloyd Chaduka and Morgenster College v. Enita Mandizvidza, Judgment No. SC 114/2001; Civil Appeal No. 298/2000 (Zimbabwe, Supreme Court),   two African Supreme Courts held that regulations that required pregnant students to withdraw from college were unconstitutional.

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Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca.   For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here.     TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


Chile: Constitutional Tribunal upholds constitutionality of new abortion law

September 21, 2017

Many thanks to Carlos Herrera Vacaflor, LL.M., for providing the following overview of this historic decision in Chile.

Tribunal Constitucional Chile, STC Rol N° 3729(3751)-17 CPT,  Requerimientos de inconstitucionalidad presentados por un grupo de Senadores y Diputados, respecto de normas del proyecto de ley que regula la despenalización de la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo en tres causales, correspondiente al boletín N° 9895-11.  Decision in Spanish: 295 pagesAccompanying documentsOther Submissions

On August 21, 2017, the Constitutional Tribunal of Chile, in a 6 to 4 ruling, upheld the constitutionality of a Bill (now enacted into law) that decriminalizes abortion in three cases: rape, fatal fetal impairment and when a woman’s life is in danger.

The Tribunal based its ruling on the following guiding principles, among others. On the basis of international human rights treaties ratified by Chile and national legal developments on maternity, the Tribunal recognized that pregnancy affects the physical and psychological integrity of a woman, since a fetus occupying a woman’s body causes physical and physiological transformations.  Furthermore, the Tribunal stated that criminal law on abortion imposes severe restrictions on rights, and leads to social and legal condemnation of individuals. The Tribunal, given such punitive power, recognized that criminal law should only be considered as an instrument of last resort, in order to limit the restrictive effect the law has on rights.

The Tribunal interpreted “threat to the life of the woman” as a risk to her life (riesgo vital). Only the physician who provides the abortion is needed to diagnose the risk to the woman’s life; no further examinations are required, lest the provision of care be delayed. Abortion is also decriminalized when the fetus carries a fatal congenital or genetic impairment impeding its survival outside the womb. The Tribunal maintained that since the Bill requires that two specialist physicians diagnose the disease of the fetus, these professionals must avoid decisional paralysis that could put a woman in greater danger. In cases of rape, the Tribunal considered constitutional the limits on access to abortion: for girls under the age of 14, abortion must be performed before 14 weeks of gestation; if the victim is older than 14, before 12 weeks of gestation.

The Tribunal also recognized, by an 8 to 2 vote, the constitutionality of institutional conscientious objection. The Tribunal found institutional conscientious objection also constitutional. Given the lack of uniformity on whether artificial legal “persons” (such as hospitals or clinics) have a right to conscience and religion in the Inter-American System of Human Rights, the Tribunal decided to elaborate its own position. The Tribunal considered it arbitrary to limit the scope of conscientious objection only to professionals intervening in abortion care. It argued that freedom of conscience and religion is protected for all persons in the Constitution and that, under comparative case law, educational institutions and private associations have been recognized as conscientious objectors in the context of education.

Full texts of Decision and Submissions:  Decision in Spanish -295 pagesAccompanying documentsOther Submissions

Chilean law professors who addressed the Court included:
   Prof. Veronica Undurraga  presentation  in Spanish.
Prof. Lidia Casas Becerra  
presentation in Spanish, at minute 42.

Amicus curiae brief re: International consensus on abortion law with respect to decriminalization, by Joanna Erdman and Rebecca Cook:
Spanish and English briefs in one PDF.

Amicus curiae brief re conscience and conscientious objection by Prof. Bernard M. Dickens:  English PDF    Spanish PDF.

“Chile Celebrates its First Steps Towards Fulfilling Abortion Rights,” by Lidia Casas and Lieta Vivaldi, on Health and Human Rights Journal website.   Blogpost in English

Press Release from Center for Reproductive Rights.  Online in English.

Newspaper report in English.

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REPROHEALTHLAW Updates — July/August 2017

August 31, 2017

SUBSCRIBE TO REPROHEALTHLAW: To receive these updates monthly by email, enter your address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

DEVELOPMENTS
[Chile] Abortion legalized in three cases: when the woman’s life is at risk, when the fetus will not survive the pregnancy, and in case of rape).  New law ruled constitutional by the Constitutional Court of Chile on August 28, 20176:  STC Rol N° 3729(3751). Requerimientos de inconstitucionalidad presentados por un grupo de Senadores y Diputados, respecto de normas del proyecto de ley que regula la despenalización de la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo en tres causales, correspondiente al boletín N° 9895-11.  Tribunal Constitucional Chile.  Decision in Spanish -295 pagesAccompanying documentsOther Submissions  Newspaper report in English.    Overview by Carlos Herrera, LL.M.
Many Chilean law professors addressed the Court, including:
   Prof. Veronica Undurraga  presentation online.
Prof. Lidia Casas Becerra  
presentation begins at minute 42:00

[United Nations – CEDAW] General Recommendation 35,  Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW) concerns gender-based violence against women, updating General Recommendation 19 (1992). e.g.: “Violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced pregnancy, criminalisation of abortion, denial or delay of safe abortion and post-abortion care, forced continuation of pregnancy, abuse and mistreatment of women and girls seeking sexual and reproductive health information, goods and services, are forms of gender-based violence that, depending on the circumstances, may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” (Art. 18)  Calls for repeal of ” legal provisions that discriminate against women,”(Art. 31) including “legislation that criminalises abortion” (31a).  Advance Unedited version of Gen. Rec. 35, 24 July 2017

CALL FOR PAPERS:
Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network, for the Law and Society Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, June 7-10, 2018, on the theme: “Law at the Crossroads”  500-word abstracts due Sept 17, 2017 Submission link.   Detailed call for papers  Pre-formed panels or ideas are welcome at:  2018lsacrn at gmail.com.

RESOURCES
Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), now also in Spanish (see next entry) and in paperback, 20% discount code PH70.  English edition from U Penn PressTable of Contents with chapter summaries.  Table of Cases.

El aborto en el derecho transnacional: casos y controversias,  ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman y Bernard M. Dickens (Mexico: FCE/CIDE, 2016)   En espanol, 2016: Fondo de Cultura Económica Libreria CIDE.     Índice con resúmenes de capítulos 1-5
Tabla de Casos/Jurisprudencia en línea con enlaces a muchas de las decisiones judiciales

[abortion law] Amicus curiae brief on international legal consensus  on abortion law reform, non-arbitrariness and proportionality, and grounds and procedural protections. 20 pp, submitted to the Tribunal Constitucional of Chile by Professors Joanna Erdman and Rebecca Cook, August 10, 2017.   Spanish and English PDF

[abortion law, Ireland] “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, Dignity and the Irish Discourse on Abortion”, by Claire Murray, Social and Legal Studies 25.6 (Dec 2016): 667-698   PDF onlineAccepted version.

[abortion, Uganda] “Access to safe abortion in Uganda: Leveraging Opportunities through the Harm Reduction Model” by Moses Mulumba, Charles Kiggundu, Jacqueline Nassimbwa and Noor Musisi Nakibuuka, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 138 (Aug. 2017): 231–236. doi:10.1002/ijgo.12190   PDF temporarily online for 12 months Submitted text online at SSRN.

[Africa] “The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and the Woman Question”, by Ebenezer Durojaye and O. Oluduro, Feminist Legal Studies (2016) 24: 315-336  Abstract and article.

[conscientious objection] Amicus curiae brief  on conscientious objection by Professor Bernard Dickens submitted to the Tribunal Constitucional of Chile, August 10, 2017  English PDF     Spanish  PDF

NEWS
[abortion drug, Canada]: “Mifegymiso” (a combination of two abortion pills: mifepristone and misoprostol RU-486), approved by Health Canada in 2015, is now available free of charge in Ontario through pharmacies by prescription from physicians and nurse practitioners  News article.

International news and resources for advocacy:  International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion.

US-focused news, resources, and legal developments are available on Repro Rights Prof Blog.  View or subscribe.

JOBS
Links to employers in the field of Reproductive and Sexual Health Law are online here

______________
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


Uganda: Harm reduction model for access to safe abortion

August 31, 2017

Congratulations and thanks to Moses Mulumba and his colleagues at the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) in Kampala for collaborating with Dr. Charles Kiggundu, a gynecologist and obstetrician, on a newly published article in the Legal and Ethical Issues section of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

Access to safe abortion in Uganda: Leveraging Opportunities through the Harm Reduction Model” by Moses Mulumba, Charles Kiggundu, Jacqueline Nassimbwa and Noor Musisi Nakibuuka, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 138 (August 2017): 231–236.  PDF free online for 12 months Submitted text  online at SSRN.

Access to safe and legal abortion services is a far reach for women and girls in Uganda. Although unsafe abortion rates have fallen from 54 to 39 per 1000 women aged 15-45 years over a decade, absolute figures show a rise from 294 000 in 2003 to 314,000 women having unsafe abortions in 2013.  Unfortunately, only 50% of the women who develop abortion complications are able to reach facilities for post-abortion care.  Despite the clinical evidence and the stories from undocumented cases, debate on access to safer and legal abortion is constricted, moralized, and stigmatized.  The harm reduction model has shown evidence of benefit in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity due to unsafe abortion while addressing related stigma and discrimination and advancing women’s reproductive health rights.  This article presents a case for promoting the model in Uganda.

Key words:  Abortion laws; Abortion policies and guidelines; Constitutional rights; Ethics; Harm reduction model; Human rights; Ugandan abortion law; Unsafe abortion


India: Supreme Court holds State responsible for delays preventing legal abortion by rape victim

August 31, 2017

Many thanks to Hanna Kofman, J.D., a recent graduate from the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, for abstracting this judgement for Reprohealthlaw Blog readers and subscribers

Indu Devi v the State of Bihar and Others [2017] Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal (C) No. 14327/2017, Judgment of May 9, 2017 (Supreme Court of India), Judgment online

In a decision dated May 9, 2017, the Supreme Court of India refused an abortion to a HIV-positive woman who had become pregnant as a result of rape.

The petitioner had initially requested an abortion in March 2017, while 17 weeks pregnant.  India’s Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, permits pregnancies resulting from rape to be terminated up to 20 weeks.  She experienced significant delays at the government hospital, eventually bringing her request to the High Court, which rejected her plea. When the case reached the Supreme Court, the petitioner was 26 weeks pregnant.  The barriers the petitioner encountered in terminating her pregnancy—in hospitals and at the High Court—illustrate the need for supporting guidelines for medical providers and courts clarifying this legal entitlement to guarantee women survivors of rape access to abortion.

The Supreme Court based its decision on the opinion of the medical board at All India Institute of Medical Sciences  (AIIMS) that at 26 weeks the abortion procedure posed a risk to the life of the petitioner and the fetus.  The Court directed the state of Bihar to provide medical treatment to the petitioner pursuant to AIIMS’ recommendations to ensure that her health is not further jeopardized and to reduce the risk of HIV-transmission to the child. The Court also held that the petitioner is entitled to 300,000 rupees compensation from the State of Bihar for the delays  which ultimately prevented her from accessing an abortion.

Relevant resources:
Supreme Court judgment of May 9, 2017
High Court judgment of April 26, 2017

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (India)

Newspaper articles:  Times of India.   Live Law India

Center for Reproductive Rights – press release
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Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


“‘Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013’: Suicide, Dignity and the Irish Discourse on Abortion” by Claire Murray

August 31, 2017

Congratulations and thanks to Dr. Claire Murray of the School of Law, University College Cork in Ireland, for her useful article, published in a special issue of Social & Legal Studies,  guest-edited by Siobhan Mullally, on “Regulating Abortion: Dissensus and the Politics of Rights.”  We are pleased to circulate this abstract and links to the full text:

Claire Murray, “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, Dignity and the Irish Discourse on Abortion”, Social and Legal Studies 25.6 (Dec 2016): 667-698   PDF onlineAccepted version.

Abortion is an issue that exposes deep divisions in Irish society and this was apparent during the debates on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013.  This introduced a framework regulating abortion into Irish law for the first time, but maintained the existing position where abortion is only available where the life of the woman is at risk. This article focuses on the centrality of suicide within the Irish discourse on abortion and the impact this had on the shape of the legislation ultimately introduced, in particular the inclusion of a more onerous process with which a woman must engage before she can obtain an abortion where the risk to her life is from suicide.  It highlights the practical consequences of this for the small number of very vulnerable women in Ireland who will be required to engage with the new statutory process which is deeply damaging.  The 2013 Act reinforces the two-tier approach to healthcare that exists in Ireland in the specific context of reproductive healthcare, as those with sufficient resources will be able to bypass the difficult and undignified statutory procedure and those who lack the socioeconomic capital will be compelled to remain.
PDF onlineAccepted version.

Keywords:  Abortion, dignity, Ireland, regulation, risk to life, suicide.

See also:
Attorney General v. X, [1992] I.E.S.C. 1, (Supreme Court of Ireland) had decided that an attempt to prevent a 14-year old girl who was pregnant as a result of being raped, from traveling from Ireland to England in order to access abortion care was not justified.  She was at real risk of committing suicide. Decision online.

Re-imagined judgment of Attorney General v. X  by Ruth Fletcher, with Commentary by Sheelagh McGuiness, in: Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity, edited by Máiréad Enright, Julie McCandless and Aoife O’Donoghue (Oxford: Hart, 2017)  This book re-imagines, re-writes and comments on 26 court decisions from feminist perspectives.  Table of Contents and details
Reprohealthlaw blog comments, and links to full text

A referendum on Irish abortion law has been promised before June 2018. Irish Times.